'Why is Vinesh special?': Antim Panghal demands fair trial for Asian Games
Wrestler Antim Panghal has asked for a fair trial to be selected for the Asian Games and questioned Vinesh Phogat's direct entry.
U-20 World Champion Antim Panghal on Wednesday questioned the trial exemption given to Vinesh Phogat in the 53 kg category for the upcoming games.
Vinesh (53kg) and Bajrang Punia (65kg) were given direct entries for the Asian Games by the Indian Olympic Association's ad-hoc committee on Tuesday while other wrestlers will have to book their places in the Indian squad through selection trials on July 22 and 23.
The 19-year-old Panghal, who comes from Hisar in Haryana and competes in 53kg, asked why Vinesh has been selected when she has not been practicing for long.
"Vinesh Phogat has not practiced for one year and she has received a direct entry for the Asian Games despite that. She doesn't have any achievement in the last year," Panghal said in a video.
"Last year, I became the first-ever Indian U20 World Champion. I won a gold medal at National Games and then at the senior level, I won a silver medal in the 2023 Asian Championships, but Vinesh has not achieved in last year," she added further.
The decision to select Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat directly for the Asian Games has sparked a row of controversy with coaches and wrestlers protesting the decision.
Vinesh got a direct entry for the Asian Games by being a medal winner at the World Championship last year. She is currently training in Budapest, Hungary.
Antim alleged that during the Commonwealth Games trials, she was hard done by the officials.
"The officials cheated me during the Commonwealth Games trials. The bout was very even at 3-3. I was like let it be, I will focus on Asian Games as they act as Olympic qualifiers. Now, they are saying that they will send only Vinesh," Antim claimed in the video.
Further asking just to give a fair chance to everyone, Antim said, "Just organize the trials and let everyone have a chance. I am not saying, I will beat her but several other girls are practicing and can beat her."
Interestingly, Antim had defeated Mongolia's Khulan Batkhuyag, who knocked out Vinesh Phogat at the World Championships.
"They are saying that the one going for the Asian Games will also go to the World Championships. How is this fair? We have been training for years," Antim expressed her frustration in the video.
"Should we leave wrestling? Tell us on what basis is she (Vinesh) being sent," Antim concluded.